The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension released a massive case file this week from its investigation into the death of Amir Locke, which included previously-unseen body-camera footage from several of the officers on scene.
These videos, according to a law enforcement veteran, confirm what some of the responding officers have said in written statements: that Locke “raised his head and looked at the officers prior to going for his gun.”
Locke, 22, was killed during a Feb. 2 Minneapolis SWAT team raid when he emerged from underneath a blanket with a gun in his hand. Minneapolis police were executing a no-knock search warrant in connection to a St. Paul homicide investigation. Locke was not named as a suspect in the warrant.
Locke’s cousin, 17-year-old Mekhi Camden Speed, was arrested in connection to that investigation and charged with two counts of second-degree murder.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced last week that officer Mark Hanneman won’t face criminal charges for killing Locke.
A joint report explaining that decision included summaries of written statements submitted by the officers who participated in the raid.
“Sergeant [John] Sysaath notes that, through the kitchen’s pass-through, he could see directly into the living room and saw a male (later identified as Amir Locke) raise his head from the couch and look in the direction of the SWAT Team’s entry. Sergeant Sysaath also notes that, while he was in the kitchen, he lost sight of Mr. Locke, as Mr. Locke ‘quickly ducked’ behind the couch. Sergeant Sysaath writes that as he continued through the kitchen, towards the living room, he was able to see Mr. Locke again coming out from under the blanket with his body and head oriented towards the sergeant’s general direction,” the report says.
Sysaath was the first to enter the apartment and video from his body camera was released this week.
The second person to enter was officer Troy Carlson, who said in his written statement that Locke’s “hands appeared on the back of the couch and a person later identified as Locke pulled himself up from the couch to view over it.”
“Sergeant Carlson also writes that he looked directly at Mr. Locke and Mr. Locke looked directly back at him. Sergeant Carlson states that he shouted at Mr. Locke to put his hands up and show his hands, and that he moved forward towards Mr. Locke since other officers were coming around through the kitchen and others were behind him. Sergeant Carlson writes that after he yelled at Mr. Locke to show his hands, Mr. Locke ‘immediately retreated under the blanket while staying on the couch and began to vigorously move around,’” the joint report explains.
Yet on Feb. 3, less than 48 hours after the shooting, Minneapolis chose to release just one video from the incident — from the fourth officer to enter the apartment, whose body-camera footage was obstructed by the officers in front of him.
This decision shows Minneapolis leaders “have an agenda,” according to Steve Sizer, a retired Minneapolis police lieutenant.
“I saw a perfectly executed warrant that unfortunately ended in death,” he said. “Clearly, he raised his head, he looked at the officers, he went back down, he grabbed his gun and came up with it.”
Sizer also criticized the “reprehensible” behavior of the mainstream media.
“The things that they’re not telling you is creating division within the community. They’re cherry-picking information out of these reports,” he said.
Sizer took particular issue with a report that described the incident as a “botched police raid.”
“There’s no way on God’s green earth this was a botched police raid. It was a lawfully executed search warrant that ended with a tragedy. Period,” he said.
“That’s all the mainstream media does is deal with the sanctification of the person who was injured or killed by the police,” he added. “It’s ripping society apart.”
Sizer, who spent 36 years as a cop, acknowledged that some incidents end badly because police are “recruited from the human race.”
By and large, the vast majority of cops don’t want conflict, he said.
“Oftentimes, when we get to a situation, we are confronted with violence, hostility, failure to comply with commands,” he explained. “In every instance, the person who we’re dealing with controls the final outcome of that situation.”